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Bhubaneswar, Sep 27:

As many as 393 elephants have died in the past five years in Odisha, Forests and Environment Minister Bikram Keshari Arukh said on Tuesday. The minister did not elaborate how the pachyderms died.

Alusingha Sick elephant

However, according to a senior official of the forest department, several elephants suffered unnatural deaths owing to poaching, poisoning, train and road accidents as well as electrocution.

According to official figures, most of the deaths occurred during 2015-16 and 2012-13 with 81 elephants killed during that time.

Arukh told the state assembly while replying to a question by Biju Janata Dal MLA Amar Prasad Satapathy that the state government was taking several steps to protect the jumbos and stone walls, trenches and solar powered wire fencing were put up in sensitive areas to prevent elephants from entering human habitats.

“We are taking a number of steps to confine elephants in forests. New forests having plant species relished by elephants are being created. Besides, fresh water-bodies are being created and those existing are being renovated,” Arukh said.

Apart from putting up solar fencing to ward off elephants, anti-depredation squads and elephant trackers were engaged to monitor movement of elephants and prevent them from entering human habitats, said the minister.

The forest and the energy departments were coordinating to raise the height of electric poles to prevent sagging of wires.

The minister said the elephants enter human habitats in search of food due to forest fire, urbanisation, industrialisation, increasing population and land encroachment.

According to him, the state government was developing 14 identified elephant corridors.

There were three elephant reserves namely Mayurbhanj, Mahanadi and Sambalpur while 14 elephant corridors in the state spreading over 870 sq km. Besides, nine fragmented corridors are also formed, said sources. (IANS)

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